‘One of the things we love about Maveron is they work as a team. There’s no consideration to who led the deal. They all try and help.’

—RYAN CALDBECK, FOUNDER & CEO

CircleUp is an online crowdfunding marketplace that supports equity investments from individual investors in small consumer and retail companies. It represents a transformative model for the way fledgling companies can raise capital. Accredited investors get free access to ongoing high-growth deal flow; an efficient way to identify and investigate companies; and the ability to make investments online. Since CircleUp’s founding in 2012, several dozen startups have raised tens of millions of dollars. It also partners with powerhouses such as General Mills and Procter & Gamble to help those Fortune 500 companies scout possible brand sensations of the future.

We noticed Ryan Caldbeck when he was a walk-on with Duke basketball in 1999. His resolve and devotion as a reserve guard—including on the 2001 championship team—offered a glimpse of his character. We stayed in touch. After a decade of involvement in private equity and consumer companies, he launched CircleUp. We were his first institutional investor.